Month: December 2013

Goodreads 2013 Reading Challenge – A KNOCKOUT!


Read 60 books in 2013? Sure, that’s a snap. In fact, I knocked it out of the park with 79 books – a total of 32% past my goal! When the year started, I wasn’t sure I could do it. However, a week’s vacation pushed me forward. I had my absolute favorites that I can’t stop talking about, and those that I am lucky I even finished. I never give up on a book, no matter how many times I wanted to with some of them. I found that this year I read a lot of books that in the past I never would have touched.

Here is a complete listing of what I read, along with the rating I gave it:

Title Author My Rating
Bared to You (Crossfire, #1) Sylvia Day 3
Cross (Alex Cross, #12) James Patterson 4
Sundays at Tiffany’s James Patterson 3
The Perks of Being a Wallflower Stephen Chbosky 4
Assassins (Left Behind, #6) Tim LaHaye 3
Divergent (Divergent, #1) Veronica Roth 4
Torn Together Emlyn Chand 3
The Indwelling (Left Behind, #7) Tim LaHaye 3
Always Looking Up: The Adventures of an Incurable Optimist Michael J. Fox 2
Sunshine Robin McKinley 3
Insurgent (Divergent, #2) Veronica Roth 5
The Mark (Left Behind, #8) Tim LaHaye 3
Seven Wonders Adam Christopher 3
Desecration (Left Behind, #9) Tim LaHaye 3
Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter Seth Grahame-Smith 2
Worth The Weight (The Worth, #1) Mara Jacobs 4
The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (Millennium, #1) Stieg Larsson 3
The Storyteller Jodi Picoult 4
Walking Disaster (Beautiful, #2) Jamie McGuire 3
The Girl Who Played with Fire (Millennium, #2) Stieg Larsson 5
Beautiful Creatures (Caster Chronicles, #1) Kami Garcia 3
The Remnant (Left Behind, #10) Tim LaHaye 2
Armageddon: The Cosmic Battle of the Ages (Left Behind, #11) Tim LaHaye 4
The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest (Millennium, #3) Stieg Larsson 4
Fifty Shames of Earl Grey (Fifty Shames #1) Fanny Merkin 4
American Gods (American Gods, #1) Neil Gaiman 3
The Shambling Guide to New York City Mur Lafferty 5
The Siren (The Original Sinners, #1) Tiffany Reisz 5
Glorious Appearing: The End of Days Tim LaHaye 2
The Angel (The Original Sinners, #2) Tiffany Reisz 5
The Great Gatsby F. Scott Fitzgerald 2
The Prince (The Original Sinners, #3) Tiffany Reisz 5
Reflected in You (Crossfire, #2) Sylvia Day 4
London Falling Paul Cornell 4
The World’s Strongest Librarian: A Memoir of Tourette’s, Faith, Strength, and the Power of Family Josh Hanagarne 5
Amped Daniel H. Wilson 4
Shades of Milk and Honey (Glamourist Histories, #1) Mary Robinette Kowal 4
Straight Noelle A. Schmitt 4
Second Glance Jodi Picoult 3
Animal Cracker Andi  Brown 3
Under the Dome Stephen King 3
Mean Season Heather Cochran 5
The Mistress (The Original Sinners, #4) Tiffany Reisz 5
A Jane Austen Daydream Scott D. Southard 4
Removed S.J. Pajonas 5
Falling for You Heather Thurmeier 5
The Longest Way Home: One Man’s Quest for the Courage to Settle Down Andrew McCarthy 2
Something Strange and Deadly Susan Dennard 4
Alphabet Dating Monique McDonell 0
Zoo James Patterson 3
Grishma Kelly Anne Blount 4
Escape from Eden Elisa Nader 5
Beautiful Darkness (Caster Chronicles, #2) Kami Garcia 3
Wintergirls Laurie Halse Anderson 5
Broken (Broken, #1) A.E. Rought 4
Baby Proof Emily Giffin 5
Rivers Michael Farris Smith 3
Worst Case James Patterson 3
Village Books Craig McLay 4
Who Is Evelyn Dae? Volume 1 Sarah LaFleur 4
Big Girl Panties Stephanie Evanovich 4
The Butterfly Sister Amy Gail Hansen 5
The Cuckoo’s Calling (Cormoran Strike, #1) Robert Galbraith 3
Allegiant (Divergent, #3) Veronica Roth 3
Rooted Amy Good 4
Entwined with You (Crossfire, #3) Sylvia Day 2
vN (The Machine Dynasty, #1) Madeline Ashby 0
Hopeless (Hopeless, #1) Colleen Hoover 5
No Plot? No Problem!: A Low-Stress, High-Velocity Guide to Writing a Novel in 30 Days Chris Baty 5
Released (The Nogiku Series #2) S.J. Pajonas 5
A Perfect Holiday Fling (Moments in Maplesville) Farrah Rochon 4
Take Me Home for Christmas (Whiskey Creek, #5) Brenda Novak 4
Christmas Delivery Susan Willis 3
Snowed Over Angie Stanton 5
A Hero’s Heart Amber Daulton 5
Backward Compatible: A Geek Love Story Sarah Daltry 5
On Strike for Christmas Sheila Roberts 4
Miracle on I-40 Curtiss Ann Matlock 3
The Chocolate Snowman Murders (A Chocoholic Mystery #8) JoAnna Carl 0

As you can see, I gave a decent amount of 5/5 stars, quite a few 4, and some that I did not rate. The ones I want to tell you about are the UNIQUE ones, the ones I COULD NOT PUT DOWN and you need to read NOW.

1. The Siren by Tiffany Reisz – If you know me personally, you know I can’t stop talking about this book. It was risky, to say the very least. I love her writing … it is beautifully written and I simply could not put it down. If you’ve read 50 Shades of Gray – you haven’t ready anything yet.

2. The World’s Strongest Librarian by Josh Hanagarne – I had never seen a book trailer until this one. I saw an ad, scanned it with my phone, and the subject intrigued me. This book is about a man and his struggle with Tourette’s and how he came to manage it. If you love to laugh, pick this up. It’s got some pretty nice messages, too.

3. The Shambling Guide to New York City by Mur Lafferty – If you’re a writer, hopefully you’ve listened to Mur’s Podcast, I Should Be Writing. If you haven’t, go to the itunes store and listen now. She is inspiring, and introduced me to my first urban fantasy book after selling this book while motivating others on her podcast. She has very clean, straightforward writing, and her characters are very unique. The sequel is out in March.

4. Removed by S.J. Pajonas – I’ve never been a science fiction fan. But when I started following S.J. Pajonas and her venture into self-publishing, I had to read this book. This book isn’t just science fiction. Are you ready for this genre? New Adult Science Fiction Romance. Whoa. And it is amazing. She tweeted about her editing process and her marketing strategies. This is a book not to be missed!

5. Escape from Eden by Elisa Nader – I was on Twitter one evening and entered a contest to win a signed hardcover of this book. I won. I read it. I LOVED IT. This young adult novel is romantic, suspenseful, and scary all at the same time. It’s so close to realities that exist in the world today that people don’t want to believe are really there. Easily one of my favorites this year.

6. Wintergirls by Laurie Halse Anderson – I’m not sure how I found this book. I checked it out from my library’s digital site. I read this in less than a day. I simply could not put it down. It was so tragic that it chilled me to the bone. By the time I was in the last chapter’s, I was shivering and in tears. I must warn you that the subject matter is very dark, but it is moving book.

7. The Butterfly Sister by Amy Gail Hansen – This was a suspenseful mystery that had me guessing until the end. The author knew right where to place clues and her pacing was incredible. It came highly recommended by a friend and I am glad that she did. It’s a quick read!

8. Released by S.J. Pajonas – Yes, I know she was on my list already. This is book 2 of her series. It is not very often I can say this, but book 2 is better than book 1. Often times I find that the first book in a series is the best. While Removed had romance, Released had all the passion. And the last line of the book will have you on Twitter, nagging the author to finish book 3.

9. Who is Evelyn Dae? Vol. 1 by Sarah LaFleur, Illustrated by Matthew LaFleur – This cleverly written story leaves a girl searching for her past and who she is. It is a unique book told through journal entries and illustrated by Sarah’s husband. His interpretation of the character is amazing. Vol. 2 is out as well, and you can get both volumes in paperback.

10. Backward Compatible by Sarah Daltry and Pete Clark – Have you ever wondered what would happen if 2 geeks fell in love? This book is told from both the male and female point of view. There’s no sex, just romance, and a lot of nerd talk. If you’re a gamer, or just a geek like me, this is the perfect book for you.

These were my favorite books of 2013. Each one links to Amazon to buy their book. If you buy their book, please do them a HUGE favor and leave a rating and/or review on Amazon and Goodreads. Also, follow them on Twitter, tell them I sent you over 🙂

So what does 2014 hold for me when it comes to reading? Hopefully 60+ books on my READ list. I am going to keep my goal at 60 because I am currently working on finishing and publishing my second book, and would like to finish the first draft of my Chick Lit book I started. Of course, I plan on NaNoWriMo in November, too!

Do you agree or disagree with my favorites? Why? Which did I miss? I would love to hear from you!! If you leave a suggestion, please link to the Amazon Kindle page for it in the links!



A Bulldog Christmas …..

Have yourself a very Bulldog Christmas

May the snores be loud

From Lucy who is brindle, and Sophie who’s white as a cloud …

Have yourself a Bulldog Christmas

Make some doggie toots

From now on, they surely will clear the room ……

Here we are in bulldog ways

Little bulldog snores, ah

Faithful friends, yes they’re dear to us,

And their expressions are never a bore, ooh

Through the years there’s been belly scratching and

Vet bills galore

But they’re so cute and have faces only their owners can adore…

So have yourself a very Bulldog Christmas, and snore!!!

Released has finally been … released!

If you don’t know who S.J. Pajonas is, you’re about to find out. She released her first book, Removed, in September, and now three months later, book 2 of the Nogiku Series has been released. It’s title? Released. And it will leave you wanting MORE!

I was so lucky to receive an advance copy of this book. I loved Removed and could not wait to read Released. Pajonas has strong characters that you root for the entire way. I can’t recall off the top of my head a female character as strong as Sanaa in my recent reads. You can read my full review here.

Here is the information on this book, RELEASED TODAY!!!

RELEASED – Book TWO of the Nogiku Series

Available December 17, 2013


 ** This blurb contains spoilers if you have not read REMOVED

Left in the desert to recuperate from her injuries, Sanaa Itami paces the floors and contemplates her mistakes. She trusted too easily, and now people she loved are dead, killed at the hands of men coming to assassinate her. Sanaa feels beaten, but life awaits her at home. While Nishikyō recovers from the earthquake, negotiations for Sanaa’s eventual rule on Yūsei continue. New allies must be made, new friendships brokered, new skills acquired — at all costs.

Life at the top of the chain is complicated and lonely, though. With relations in Sakai clan rocky and uncertain, Sanaa must learn to trust others again more than she’s willing. Who amongst the clans is left holding a grudge? And will the new family Sanaa has found with Jiro support or betray her?

From Nishikyō to Yūsei, RELEASED, Book TWO of the Nogiku Series, is the second book in a captivating New Adult post-apocalyptic romance series that harnesses the cultures and traditions of Japan and sweeps them into the future between Earth and a faraway land.




Barnes & Noble:



Pinterest Inspiration Board:

Author Information

S. J. Pajonas loves all things Asian and has been in love with Japan for as long as she can remember. Writing about Asia and Japan came naturally after studying the culture and language for over fifteen years. She studied film and screenwriting first and eventually segued into fiction once she was no longer working a full-time job.

Released is S. J. Pajonas’s second work, book two of four in the Nogiku Series. The first book in the series, Removed, is described as “a wonderful story” with “engaging characters, seamless world building, and an action packed plot.” It’s an “up-til-3am-because-I-read-it-in-one-sitting book.” She also writes contemporary romance and her upcoming first book in the Love in the Digital Age series will be published in 2014.

S. J. lives with her husband and two children just outside of New York City. She loves reading, writing, film, J- and K-dramas, knitting, and astrology. Her favorite author is Haruki Murakami and favorite book is The Wind-up Bird Chronicle.

Other Links:




Author profile on Goodreads:


A Geek Romance: Romance is the Key Word

What did I take away from Backward Compatible by Sarah Daltry & Pete Clark? A good old fashioned romance can still be written.

If you haven’t noticed, there’s a craze in books lately. Sex. And more sex. And even more sex. The plot typically goes that a young woman meets an older man that has nightmares about sexual abuse and this girl falls in love with him and they have sex every other page of the book. You’ve read them – so have I. Backward Compatible is the complete opposite of those books.

The authors will warn you that there is NO SEX in this book. There really isn’t. There’s lots of swearing, lots of game play, and lots of young romance. You know, those awkward moments between a boy and a girl where they can’t admit to each other that they like each other – like really, like LIKE each other, and they steal looks at one another and just want to spend time together. This book is about those moments.

I’ll admit it – I’m not a gamer. Unless Candy Crush counts, which I know it doesn’t 🙂 That is made clear by the reference to the game in the book! However, advertised as a GEEK ROMANCE, I couldn’t wait to read this book. Since I am not a gamer, a lot of the references may or may not have gone over my head, but that didn’t matter. I laughed throughout this book. I enjoyed the romance. I KNEW the characters. I had many favorite parts in this book, but my absolute favorite part was when Katie, one of the main characters, cried. Yes. That was my favorite part. She was real in that moment. Despite her tough, I don’t care exterior, she was real.

I read this book over the weekend. It’s a quick read and it’s fun. You’ll love it! And, since it takes place over Christmas, still a holiday read!


Writer’s Block: My Little Secret

As you know, I am deep in edits and scene additions for Pieces of It All. After receiving feedback from my seven wonderful beta readers, I know exactly where I need to make changes and improve the book. Based on feedback, I should be able to easily add about 20K in words. My plan was to tackle this after completing NaNoWriMo.

I didn’t start editing until a few days into December. I added one scene so far, and was able to switch the POV from one main character to the other main character in another chapter. In between adding scenes, small edits are being one on existing chapters. After I complete this new draft (which is draft #5!), I ill go back and edit all the chapters again.

Today I opened up my laptop knowing what scene I had to write. The entire scene has played out in my head. I can see the characters moving and talking and it’s great! However, 250 words into the scene, I hit a wall. Why? How can this be since it’s all in my head?

While I can see it playing out like a movie, the perfect words don’t always come. This fills me with fear and doubt and my fingers don’t want to move across the keyboard. Staring at the cursor, I become agitated and close Scrivener. I should just give up.

But I don’t. I have a secret weapon I use in times like these. It’s called Evernote. I love it!



Evernote isn’t just a note taking app. I utilize my microphone on my iPhone when I use it. I think I have only ever typed into Evernote on two occasions, when it wasn’t a list. I simply speak out the scene. I sound like a world class idiot – that’s for sure. The funnest part is that Evernote does particularly well transcribing, but sometimes the sentences are way off. But that’s fixable. After I finish the scene, or have enough inspiration to begin typing again, I transfer the document into Scrivener. I then briefly edit what I spoke – most times making it better.

There is so much more to Evernote that I have never discovered. But this is what works for me. It helps me nine out of ten times when it comes to writer’s block.

What helps you?

When Evernote doesn’t work, there’s always the shower, right S.J. Pajonas?

Early Release! Backward Compatible by Sarah Daltry & Pete Clark

On December 12th, Backward Compatible was to be released, but Christmas came early and it’s available NOW! To top it off, it’s ONLY 99 CENTS! This is only until 12/15 so get it now!

I have been so excited to read this book! I hope you pick it up right away. For 99 cents, why wouldn’t you? 🙂

Here is the cover:


About the book:

WARNING: There is no sex in this book. Your Kindle or other device will remain at a pleasant room temperature. At no point will your panties drop. Your significant other will be allowed to snore in peace as you read.

Not too long ago, in a town that, depending on your current location, is either not super far or actually quite close…

It is a time of chaotic hormones. 

Two nerdy gents home for winter break have discovered a female gamer at a midnight release.During the break, the gamer trio manages to reveal the game’s secret boss, a hidden enemy with enough power to destroy anything in its path.

Pursued by other gamers who want to be the first to beat this boss, George and Katie race to level up, and, in so doing, restore decency and sexual activity to their personal galaxy…

Buy Links:


Amazon UK:



Barnes and Noble:


All Romance:






Happy Book Birthday to Sarah LaFleur!

Have you every wondered who Evelyn Dae is? You haven’t? Well you should – and now you can find out.

Volume 2 of Who is Evelyn Dae by Sarah LaFleur has been released – and you can also now get Volumes 1 & 2 in paperback form!

Here is the beautiful cover, designed by her husband, Matthew LaFleur, who also did the illustrations in the book:



About the book:

Evelyn Dae has a secret she wishes she could run away from, and a past she cannot remember. While fishing for clues, she creates diary entries of dream fragments, bits of truth, and wishes that can never come true. In order to protect the secret she’s drowning in, she also devises a set of rules to live by. But rules are made to be broken, and when it comes to Oliver Knight, Evelyn is in way over her head. Standing on the precipice between land and sea, she’s caught in a net of memories. Time is winding down, and she has a single morning to decide her fate. Who Is Evelyn Dae? Find out in this illustrated tale that mixes diary sketchbook entries with traditional storytelling.

You can download Volume 1 and Volume 2 for Kindle, or you can order the paperback with both volumes!

Volume 1 can be downloaded here

Volume 2 can be downloaded here

Order the paperback here

Right now you can get Volume 1 and 2 for just 99 cents each! You can’t go wrong!!!

About Sarah LaFleur:

Until December 2012, Sarah LaFleur was a working pianist and teacher. In the midst of a career change, she started writing a story. Less than 17 weeks later she completed her first full-length novel currently being shopped around for traditional publication.

Who Is Evelyn Dae? was born when Sarah decided to launch her writing persona (lafleurdeplume) on social media. By early September 2013, she connected with a wonderful community of writers and readers who convinced her to publish the website story as an ebook.

Sarah continues to write, and has several projects in the works including a sequel to her first novel, an adult science fiction book that stands alone, and multiple guest blog spots. She lives in the greater Chicago metropolitan area with her children, husband, cats, and piano. 

About Matthew LaFleur:

I love to draw.

From my humble beginnings of doodling intricate, underground mazes filled with treasures (and almost certain death), to discovering watercolor, pen and ink, to eventually marrying my spontaneous pencil sketches with digital color, the drive has always been the same: to get a positive reaction from people.

This project has me playing the part of Evelyn Dae’s drawn diary entries. It has been a challenge to think about the fact that the artwork is the result of a young girl’s musings. Sarah and I work closely together to make sure each illustration not only serves the story, but also presents clues not necessarily obvious with the text alone.

Social Media:

Sarah can be found on Twitter at and Facebook at Her website is

Matthew can be found on Twitter at and his website is

Please check out this book – you won’t be disappointed!